Music education appears to influence the reading process. Children who are learning to read or who have reading difficulties appear to read better when they receive music lessons. Music affects certain brain areas that are also important in the reading process.
By offering music and reading together in education, in which movement also plays a role, reading performance is improved. Numerous studies have been done on the influence of music on learning (1). Because music activates many brain areas, it also appears that learning processes, which also use those brain areas, are improved. Music also appears to play an important role with regard to reading.
The Influence Of Music On The Reading Process
Children who receive music education for a longer period of time have better reading skills than children who do not. This is shown by research by scientists at Long Island University (2). They compared two groups of 7-year-old children, one group of whom had had piano lessons for three years and the other group had not.
Reading tests showed that the group that had received piano lessons performed better in reading than the other group. The researchers state that music lessons stimulate brain areas that are also useful for reading. In Brazil, research was done on children with reading difficulties (3). The children were between 8 and 10 years old (n=235). It turned out that if children could indicate the difference between two melodies,
it could be predicted that they would read better. The research showed that timbre, pitch, discrimination of sounds, and rhythm play an important role in this. These aspects appear to influence the areas that are also important in reading.
Areas Of The Brain Involved In The Reading Process
The learning process is a complicated process involving multiple brain regions and the connections between them. There are three brain areas that play an important role in reading:
- the field of word analysis,
- the field of word recognition and
- the area of articulation.
In reading, these areas work closely together (4). Music also appears to activate these areas. This involves distinguishing sounds (analysis), pitch, rhythm (articulation), and timbre and recognizing sounds and text (word recognition).
The Influence Of Music On Word Reading
When reading words, the word recognition area in particular plays an important role. It is located above the ears and as the name suggests, words are formed here. Words are especially recognized when they are taught in an emotional context. Music that evokes feelings is remembered. Even at an older age, music that used to evoke certain feelings can still make one emotional. Pitch, timbre, and rhythm in particular appear to play a major role in this. Music with lyrics contains words that are sung high, low, rhythmically, and with feeling.
Reading Suggestions: Children’s party, indoors and outdoors
Reading in which the reader makes a difference in pitch, timbre, and rhythm ensures that children listen with fascination. As a result, texts read aloud can acquire a certain emotional charge. They are stored in memory and if the children read themselves – after some practice – they are recognized more quickly.
The words then do not have to be spelled over and over again, which is characteristic of readers who spell. Music and reading appear to activate the same brain region. A brain area that is active will also be active in different situations – if it is called upon. Music will therefore contribute to faster recognition of words when reading.
How Can Music Promote The Reading Process?
One possibility is to have them read rows of words that are practiced to music, in which pitch, timbre, and rhythm play a role. If the children are also able to move, this appears to increase the chance of the learning process even more.
Singing and moving texts and practicing words not only appear to increase the learning process, but also the fun. And it is precisely the fun that motivates the learning process. Repetition is important here. After practicing, the practiced words can be read in texts. Because of recognition, there is a good chance that the words will be read fluently.
The results of the studies indicate that music can play a supporting and complementary role in reading instruction. It is desirable that the connection between music and reading takes place in a well-considered manner.